Anonymous (Officer of the Expedition), 11/Jul/1845
Arctonauts note. This letter was published as an update to the ongoing Franklin Expedition, right after the Baretto Junior transport had returned to England. The author is one of the principal officers of the expedition, though he has not yet been identified for sure.
The letter was taken from The Greenock Advertiser, 15/Aug/1845.
Whale Fish Islands, July 11.
Here we are, laden and moored in a snug little cove among the Whale Fish Islands, east coast of Greenland, lat. 69° 9′, long. 53° 10′ W. One would have hardly thought it possible for two such ships as the Erebus and Terror to have taken on board all the provisions, &c., that were on board the transport, but with very little exception such is the case. I certainly never saw any ship so deep before, and I felt anxious, like the boy with a walnut-shell in a basin of water, to see if the vessels could bear it. One thing is certain, our fellows, who are in high spirits, and in robust health, will make a large hole in the comestibles every day, and therefore we shall ‘improve our sailing qualities as we lighten,’ as they say of the surveyor’s ships.
The weather here is delightful. We have the sun all the 24 hours, and the middle of the day is really very warm, notwithstanding from the top of the island you can count, speaking within bounds, at least a thousand icebergs.
The transport leaves to-morrow, and we pursue our voyage on Monday. We have received accounts from the Davis that the state of the ice to the northward is very favourable to our enterprise. This is very gratifying, and will be an additional incentive to our gallant chief to push on, though with all the stability, prudence and caution of the sexagenarian; and while considering the glorious advantages which he would reap from complete success, he, nevertheless, calculates the sacrifice which he must inevitably risk. But who knows? We may get through this year. Then how delighted I should be to pitch an upper deck-load overboard, consisting of 40 tons, and nearly 100 casks.
Our passage out was a very fair one; but a small allowance of bad weather, and that not so very bad for us to feel it much.
Large collections have already been made in natural history, especially in marine animals, such as crustaciæ, medusæ, &c., several hundred in number, and a great many of a new kind.
We are working away here from four in the morning until six. We have then some shooting until noon. There are quantities of eider duck here; they resort to the latitude in the breeding season.
As yet we have seen no ice except bergs, which are considered as such by the whalers. For two days previous to our reaching here we were threading our way through them. It is a grand sight witnessing one of the icebergs capsize; they come over with the reverberating noise of thunder, and, generally speaking, gradually fall to pieces.
P.S.—I have written this hasty letter by the midnight sun.